A Study of Supervisor and Student Views on the Role of Clinical Legal Education in Developing Commercial Awareness


  • Siobhan McConnell Northumbria University




This article examines the role of clinical legal education in developing commercial awareness, a key employability skill. Using data collected from a mixed-methods research study involving a visual data collection tool (a diamond), this research contributes to understanding of whether, and how, clinical legal education develops law students’ commercial awareness. This study provides the first detailed empirical evidence of the importance of commercial awareness to those teaching and learning in clinic, the teaching activities that supervisors use and that students identify as developing commercial awareness, and the impact of those activities in a graduate recruitment context. This data is important because commercial awareness is required across a range of graduate sectors, including the legal profession, and law students have a variety of available career options. The results indicate that whilst students and supervisors deem commercial awareness very important, there are differences between the two groups in terms of their understanding of what it means, and the type of clinic activities identified as developing commercial awareness. The results suggest that there is a genuine, but yet not fully realised, opportunity for students to develop commercial awareness in clinic. As well as providing a unique insight into the role of clinical legal education in developing commercial awareness, the author makes recommendations for clinicians on how best to support students in developing their commercial awareness.

Key words: Commercial Awareness, Clinical Legal Education, Graduate Employability; Diamond Ranking, Law Students

Author Biography

Siobhan McConnell, Northumbria University

Senior Lecturer, Northumbria University






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